Planning my next steps – REFINE


Sage phase – Days 22-29

Design tools that focus in on details, make decisions and solve problems

These tend to be the days when I get into the details of an issue, find the best solutions, refine the details, plan how to make progress and make solid decisions.

Permaculture tools that suit this stage include making implementation and maintenance plans, setting smart goals, doing detailed careful work like drawing base maps or recording finances. I also found this stage the best for writing up my designs as I was happy to spend whole days alone, quiet, focussed and deeply engaged in my work.


So, previously in this design, I’d made the decision to continue working on my Muddy Boots business 3-4 days per week and refine the activities I offered in order to maximise my enjoyment and profits. I’d also decided to seek employment in arts education with another company for 1 day per week. This felt like real progress, so I was able to begin to focus in on my business in detail and plan how to make it more effective for the coming year.

I have done lots of work on my 2017 and 2018 finances. This content is in another blog post here and is password protected. Message me to get the password and see this content.



I created a business tasks list and asked myself three questions; am I good at this task? Do I enjoy it, is this task vital? I then thought about what I could change in reflection of this.



I considered what I could change in reflection on my business tasks list and set about trying to make the suggested changes.

So all of the work done to date can be summarised as 7 main suggested changes to make to my Muddy Boots business and career path. This is the core of my design.

  1. Look into buying or renting my own site.
  2. Create more efficient admin and marketing systems or buy in help from a person or service.
  3. Ensure I am paid for all hours that I work.
  4. Reduce expenses and increase profits
  5. Reduce time spent on kit management and moving kit around
  6. Ensure I am earning from poly-income sources
  7. Schedule in CPD time.

I decided to write my implementation plan and use this activity to break down each of the seven actions into the activities that I needed to do to create positive changes towards making each action happen.


Look into buying or renting my own site I will sign up to woodland buying websites and aim to visit any woodland that comes up for sale within 25 miles of my home. I visited woodland 25 miles away from me in early Jan 2018 but it sold to someone else almost immediately. It was really interesting and I shall continue to ponder this option for the future and look at other woodland that appears for sale locally.  Kirby wood


I will consider the finances of buying a site and find out if I could get a loan for this purpose. I looked into the logistics of borrowing £30,000 from my mortgage lender. We considered using our savings and pensions to invest into a woodland On-going
I will join the small woodland owners FB group and do a few intro posts Yes I’ve done this and made some interesting new links Feb. Yes. Continue using the forum regularly
I will speak to people locally who may be able to help me, local councillors, land owners, farmers etc. I need to follow up a possible lead on a woodland in s. Leicestershire that belongs to the council Asap
Create more efficient admin and marketing systems or buy in help from a person or service Research possible admin systems to use Not really done this Asap
I will look again at all my current admin systems and make changes to make systems more efficient to manage. I’ve re-done some of my more cumbersome admin systems to make them quicker to action Before march Done
I will aim to keep admin time to less than 4 hours per week after the initial planning weeks are over. Still in the initial set up weeks at time of writing so lots of admin time is happening March onwards
I will consider what marketing is most effective for me and draw up a strategy for 2018 spring/summer marketing of events.


Decided to have longer block bookings and incentives for booking multiple blocks. I identified that I was likely to be able to fill most of my spaces via my mailing list. So extra marketing outside of my normal FB and Instagram marketing was probably not required. I will however produce some flyers and posters for my local library to raise the profile and awareness of MB locally. Jan-Feb. Done
I will use an email-marketing tool to make my spring mail out as attractive and effective as possible. I chose to use ‘campaign monitor’ and did a lovely spring-summer mail out. It was really effective and helped to fill well over 50% of my spaces within 48 hours! Design the email in Jan


Goes live Feb. 1st

Look into raising the profile of MB in local press or online link ups. I was the featured blogger on ‘The crop club’ website with an article I wrote about the importance of outdoor play and links to all my social media sites. First week in Feb. Done
Ensure I am paid for all hours that I work


I will do a financial review of 2017 I looked back at all figures for 2017 and drew conclusions about which activities worked best. Jan Done
I will do a financial projection for 2018. I did lots of work on my finances so that I had realistic and achievable aims for 2018


Jan Done
I will assign myself a weekly wage and set up a direct debit monthly from my business to personal accounts to pay my wages.


I have decided on an hourly wage for admin work and face-to-face work. I have paid myself for the marketing and admin time done in Jan and early Feb. I will set up a monthly DD for March onwards. March Done
Reduce expenses and increase profits I will aim to use more found, donated and recycled items in my sessions and reduce the need for buying materials. On-going On-going
I will set and abide by a maximum per session expenses cost. I don’t think this is realistic due to differing sessions but will keep careful records instead and record the average. N/A N/A
I will increase each session cost by 15%. Decided to put prices up by 15% for most sessions and factored this into the pricing. Jan Done
I will adjust the forest parties pricing to make it more profitable Reviewed and adjusted my Forest party packages to give more options to cater to a variety of price points and to make them more sustainable and profitable for me


Jan Done
I will aim to keep the overall expenses at less than 1/3 of the income for 2018.


Keep careful records and all receipts. On-going
Reduce time spent on kit management and moving kit around


I will put more shelves up in my kit storage area I managed to find some shelves to re-purpose and set these up in my storage area.


Jan Done
I will ensure all kit if tidy, labelled and re-stocked before sessions re-start in 2018. I will tidy my kit storage area and re-stock with what I need for the 2018 season Before end Feb.
I will spend no more than 1 hour before each session preparing and packing kit. I will plan what kit to take to each session more effectively. March onwards
I will record this time in a log. Need to set up a log book March onwards
I will plan double sessions whenever possible into my diary.


Planned in full days rather than half days, i.e. double sessions or a session and a party, so that I minimise kit movement and set up/pack up time. Jan Done
Ensure I am earning from poly-income sources


I will plan to have five different MB income streams in 2018 (forest pre-school, allotment playgroup, forest family days, forest parties and women’s retreat days) 2018 planning winter 2017 onwards On-going
I will aim to work for other people at 2 festivals or events in 2018. I spoke to my Forest school colleagues and expressed an interest in doing some assisting work Dec 2017 onwards
I will seek employment with another company for 1 day per week.


I approached Soft Touch arts about taking up my 1-1 arts and photography teaching again. They offered me 2 hours per week starting in mid January, contracted initially for 6 months. I have now started this work every Wednesday morning.


Dec 2017 Done
Schedule in CPD time


I will attend a minimum of six CPD day courses.


I have been in touch with the local FS network and have expressed my interest in attending their CPD days.


Jan onwards
I will attend three networking sessions during 2018 As above Jan onwards
I will renew my first aid certificate in spring 2018 I have booked onto a course in late Feb Feb
I will look into adding children’s yoga into my morning circles and gain the necessary training for this I have been watching online kids yoga for teachers course. I have been attending yoga classes myself at least twice a week Feb.
I will learn more about foraging and herbal medicine I have booked onto a spring foraging workshop. On-going
I will gain more skills and confidence in tool use I need to book onto a tool workshop On-going
I will gain more confidence and skills in campfire cookery techniques I need to book onto a campfire cookery workshop and try out some new skills in my garden before sharing them at sessions On-going

Maintainance plan

I decided the most useful way to write a maintenance plan would be to divide it into timely tasks. I looked at the tasks that I need to perform at various timescales that made sense to me; daily, before each session, after each session, weekly,  per season and annually.

Daily tasks

  • Check emails
  • Check Facebook and Instagram for messages that need a response
  • Update to FB / Insta for marketing as required
  • Check and update all diaries
  • Write task lists and complete each days tasks

Before each session 

  • check the session plan and kit list
  • Pack all kit required
  • Pack all food and drink required
  • Complete any outstanding admin tasks
  • Arrive on site early to set up

After each session

  • Wash all food and cooking kit in cool box
  • wash all cloths and washing up boxes
  • unpack and restock the shelves
  • Note any observations about the session activities and the group
  • Edit photographs taken and download onto computer
  • Financial records and totals as required

Additional weekly tasks

  • Check and update finances and paid lists
  • Chase people for payments as required
  • Order materials as required
  • Purchase food and drink items for sessions
  • Social media updates to advertise upcoming sessions and document events
  • Working for Soft Touch every Wednesday – planning and face to face work.

Per season tasks

  • Plan my sessions
  • Book assistant/ volunteers as required
  • Major email out for next season bookings
  • Marketing for next season bookings
  • Major kit check and wash
  • Order new kit
  • Check and update first aid boxes
  • Create and distribute end of season feedback forms and make changes as appropriate.

Annual tasks

  • Plan the years dates
  • Consider my aims for the year
  • Creative review/ forward plan for the year
  • Financial review
  • Financial forward planning
  • Review feedback forms and make changes as appropriate
  • Tax return
  • Ensure all certification is up to date, first aid, DBS, etc
  • Renew PL Insurance and send copies to all parish council




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